Fallschirmjager: German Paratroopers 1937-1941...
...new Images of War from Pen and Sword
Title: Fallschirmjager: German Paratroopers 1937-1941
Author: Francois Cochet
Publisher: Pen and Sword
This new Images of War book from Pen & Sword is the first image based book from Belgian author Francois Cochet, and he has made a very good job of it. It starts with the pre-war period and the formation of the Fallschirmjager units. Training shots include practice jumps, parachute packing, practice landing rolls and how to deal with the billowing parachute once they had landed. This is illustrated showing old, wingless airframes and the draught generated from their propellers. An interesting and unusual diorama idea for the modeller.
With the start of WW2, the Fallschirmjager units played little part in the Polish campaign, beyond a small ground based role. It wasn't until the offensives in Scandinavia and then Holland and Belgium that they had the chance to put all their training into practice. With landings in Holland to seize key points, and most famously, their glider assault on the Belgian fortress of Eban Emael. Following this there was a period of reorganisation and a small role in the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece. In chapter 4 we get to their most significant operation, in May 1941. The Fallschirmjager had the lead in the assault on Crete, landing by parachute, by glider and by Junkers Ju 52 transport. Ultimately, the assault was successful in taking control of the island, but at great cost to the assault troops. Significant losses among this highly trained force was accompanied by a significant number of Ju 52 transport aircraft. It marked a change in the approach of the German high command, and they would not risk using them in this kind of major assault again. Interesting that the opposite reaction from both British and American forces led to further development of airborne forces.
The story does move on to the immediate follow on from Crete, and a minor involvement for Fallschirmjager as ground troops assisting in trouble spots on the Russian front at the end of 1941. This is where the story stops for this book, which saw the high point in the use of the German Fallschirmjager. Some excellent photos, with informative captions, and illustrating plenty of detail on uniforms and equipment which modellers will like, and combat records that will interest the historian of airborne forces in WW2.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.